Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

My hands were shaking as I dialed the number to my doctor’s office. I held the phone to my ear and sat down as I listened to the line ring. My heart was pounding as the receptionist answered, “Good morning! How may I help you?”

“Hi, um . . . I need to schedule an appointment . . . ” My voice cracked as the tears began streaming down my face. I barely got out my request as I desperately tried to keep my emotions under control.

I’ll never forget that phone call. That was a few weeks shy of my baby boy’s first birthday. I had been silently suffering with a condition I now know is termed postpartum emotional distress. The depression and anxiety I thought I could beat on my own was looming over me as the year mark approached.

I kept telling myself to give it more time. Surely I would feel better once the baby started sleeping better. But he was sleeping better and had been for a few months now. Sure, there was an occasional sleep regression or teething pain that made sleep difficult, but I was no longer dealing with the crazy sleep patterns of a newborn. So why am I still feeling this way?

Meeting with my doctor was the turning point in my journey of overcoming PPD, but it certainly wasn’t a quick fix. Listed below are the steps I have taken and continue to follow as I seek complete victory over my PPD and anxiety. It is my hope and prayer that it might help others going through something similar:

1. Seek professional help and follow up with your doctor.

If I hadn’t reached out to my doctor, I may still be waiting and wondering when I’d feel better. I was already trying everything I could think of to help ease the symptoms of depression, but it was the combination of medication and counseling that jump-started the healing process in me I was unable to achieve by myself. Once my body and mind were properly taken care of by medical professionals, my own efforts were much more effective.

The medication my doctor prescribed to me has been a huge part of my recovery. There were some minor side effects during the first few weeks of taking my low dosage anti-depressant, but it didn’t take long for my body to adjust and the medication to work. My emotions began leveling out, and I finally had more energy.

My doctor also recommended counseling so I found a therapist and began one-on-one therapy sessions. The counseling inspired me to proactively work to improve my everyday habits and thought processes. Most importantly, it gave me hope and helped me feel more “normal”. My counselor was so helpful that I plan on continuing therapy from time to time when I need extra support throughout life.

2. Find a personal support system. 

Whether it is a breastfeeding or baby-wearing support group or just a few close friends, having a support system is essential to the healing process. As an introvert, the last thing I wanted to do was join a support group and be vulnerable with a bunch of strangers. So I enlisted a few friends and family members to help support and encourage me.

For the first few months postpartum, little tasks were extremely overwhelming and difficult for me so my husband stepped in to take care of all the first-time parenting stuff such as figuring out how to properly assemble and care for all our baby gadgets. He has continued to be the most patient and understanding partner as we have walked through this journey together.

In addition, I asked a couple girlfriends to periodically check in on me. They help encourage me when I need it and get me out of the house for play dates with our kids. My sister and another friend of mine both had babies around the same time as me, so the first few months postpartum, I was guaranteed to have a texting buddy during all those early morning feedings.

3. Take care of yourself emotionally and spiritually. 

One thing that has always proved helpful to me when I’m going through a bout of depression is keeping a gratitude journal. There is something very therapeutic about jotting down a few things I’m thankful for each day. I didn’t have enough energy to write in a journal so I kept a voice diary on my phone instead. Everyday while I was nursing my son, I would record my voice as I made declarations of all the things I was thankful for. Speaking out loud the blessings in my life helped stir up my faith and gave me hope that I would feel better again soon.

I also enjoy reading so I always have a few devotionals on hand either on my Bible app or around the house in book format. Early on in my little boy’s life, I found a few books that were extremely helpful to me in my transition to motherhood. There was one book in particular called Nourishment for New Moms by Joan C. Webb, which proved to be just what this new mama needed. It’s a short devotional book that is full of women’s personal stories about transitioning to mommy-hood. It made me laugh, cry, and most importantly, not feel so alone in my thoughts and fears as a new mom.

4. Take care of your body

Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet and get as much sleep as possible. During the first few months postpartum, all you really have control over is what you put into your body so make sure you’re eating foods to fuel your energy. Enlist a friend or family member to help watch the baby when you need extra rest. My husband was my go-to person when I needed a nap or time away from the baby.

During the first few sleep-deprived months after my son was born, exercise was the last thing on my mind. However, there came a time when I had to force myself to workout. I started out slowly by going for walks and following exercise videos at home. Today, I workout three times a week by running with my son in his beloved jogging stroller or taking a Zumba class at our gym where my (now) toddler enjoys playing with the other kids.

As someone who has experienced the darkness of depression at various times throughout my life, I have gained a deep appreciation for exercise and its positive effect on my mental health. In fact, I no longer view workouts as strictly a physical activity. The number one reason I exercise is for the endorphins that boost my mood and energy level. Exercise is absolutely essential for my mental health.

5. Give yourself (and others) TONS of grace; it will get better.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my experience with PPD and anxiety, it’s to give yourself bucket loads of grace. Whether people admit it or not, the transition to parenthood is challenging for most people, but adding another dimension of depression and anxiety makes everything much more difficult. So make sure you aren’t too hard on yourself as a new mommy. Allow yourself to make mistakes and don’t listen to the “mom guilt” that will inevitably threaten to take over your mind.

After pouring that bucket load of grace on yourself, make sure to extend that same grace to others around you. Not everyone will understand what you’re going through. Some moms may claim they suffered from something similar but then proceed to tell you what they did to overcome their PPD on their own. But often, people suffering from PPD and anxiety cannot be cured without medication or counseling or both. In other words, depression cannot be overcome just by “positive thinking” your way out of it. Therefore, if at any point you feel like your experiences are being downplayed or belittled, remember that it isn’t your job to make others understand the complexities of depression.

The only people in your life who should be expected to make an attempt to understand what you’re going through is your support system. Be extra patient with your family and friends as you share in this journey with them. Make sure they understand what kind of support and encouragement you need from them, and don’t forget to give them grace as they help you along your journey to victory.

Lastly, remember that it will get better! Stay the course, take care of yourself, and keep in mind that your little baby won’t be this much work forever. Like most challenges in life, your victory over PPD most likely won’t be a quick fix, but if you keep the faith, you’ll find that your journey to victory was worth the battle and worth the wait. And when you find yourself on the other side of victory, don’t forget to reach out to other women who may be going through something similar. They’ll need your empathy, support, and encouragement to get them to their own personal victory

Editor’s note: personal opinions expressed here should not be used as a substitute for medical/professional care.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Alaina V. Fletcher

Alaina is a midwestern girl, married to her one and only boyfriend who she met in her mid-twenties. Together they have a preschool son and 3 angel babies in Heaven. Alaina’s childhood love for reading and writing led her to earning a college degree in English. She’s a fair-weather runner and former dancer reliving her glory days in weekly Zumba class. She’s a writer, photography-lover, and work-at-home mom to an amazing little boy. Alaina writes about motherhood, miscarriage, depression & anxiety, “introvert life”, racial reconciliation, discovering your giftings & passions, and living a life of purpose & love. She’s been published by Her View From Home and TODAY Parenting Team. She’s the creator and writer of The Living Loved Movement at where she inspires others to live their lives through the lens of love. You can follow the movement on Facebook and Instagram.

Children Don’t Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger

In: Inspiration, Mental Health, Motherhood
Children Don't Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger

“This too shall pass.” As mothers, we cling to these words as we desperately hope to make it past whichever parenting stage currently holds us in its clutches. In the thick of newborn motherhood, through night wakings, constant nursing and finding our place in an unfamiliar world, we long for a future filled with more sleep and less crying. We can’t imagine any child or time being more difficult than right now. Then, a toddler bursts forth, a tornado of energy destroying everything in his wake. We hold our breath as he tests every possible limit and every inch of...

Keep Reading

I Don’t Have Anxiety—But My Husband Does

In: Health, Mental Health, Relationships
I Don't Have Anxiety—But My Husband Does

I don’t have anxiety but my husband does.  We should have realized this years ago but we missed it. The realization came suddenly and as soon as it popped in my mind, it came out of my mouth. “You have anxiety.” I said. He looked at me trying to determine if I was joking or serious. “I am serious, you have anxiety.” His eyes left mine and found his phone. He picked it up and said, “Hey Siri, give me the definition of anxiety.” As the virtual assistant read off the definition she may as well have been reading my man’s personality...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Sure How Long I’ll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal…and That’s OK

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Grief, Mental Health
I'm Not Sure How Long I'll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal...and That's OK

I tried to wean off of Zoloft and couldn’t. And that’s OK. I had never really been aware of the world of antidepressants. My life has been relatively uneventful—with the normal ups and downs that most of us go through. I knew people on medication for depression but never understood. How can you be THAT sad that you can’t just be positive and make the best of your circumstances? How can someone be THAT unhappy ALL the time to need medication? I didn’t get it. I felt bad for people going through it. Then my 2-year-old was diagnosed with Stage...

Keep Reading

To the Mom With the Anxious Soul

In: Journal, Mental Health, Motherhood
To the Mom With the Anxious Soul

I see you, mama. You’re the one sitting alone at the family party. You’re the one hovering a little too close to your sweet babies at the park. You’re the one standing in the bathroom at work for just a moment of quiet. Your thoughts are swirling constantly, faster and more fearful that a “regular” mama. You find yourself spaced out at times, and hyper aware at others. You’ve heard the words “just relax” and “everything is fine” more times than you care to count. Sometimes you wish you could make everyone understand why you are the way you are...

Keep Reading

I Know You’re Exhausted, Mama—But Experts Say You NEED That Momcation

In: Mental Health, Motherhood
I Know You're Exhausted, Mama—But Experts Say You NEED That Momcation

I waved as our old blue truck rolled down the road away from where I stood, planted on the sidewalk alone. There I was staring down my first solo stay away from my husband and sons, and the only thought I could muster up was what on Earth was I thinking planning a weekend to myself in the city?  Would my kids be okay without me? More like, would I be OK without them? The answer to both questions was of course, yes, but in that moment I couldn’t help but have doubt because, well, you know—”time off” doesn’t exactly...

Keep Reading

A Morning in the Life of a Mom With Anxiety

In: Child, Journal, Mental Health, Motherhood
A Morning in the Life of a Mom With Anxiety

I wake up to the sound of my kids in the kitchen, the morning sun peeping through my window. I immediately cringe at the thought of having to parent today. And why? Because my anxiety and depression is so strong that I want to curl up in a ball and cry. I start thinking about all the things I need to get done, and then I remember that one child has baseball practice for two hours tonight. The other child won’t want to go and will pitch a fit. I roll over to get the sun out of my eyes....

Keep Reading

Our Daughter Hated School; We Finally Discovered Why (and How to Help)

In: Child, Mental Health, School
Our Daughter Hated School; We Finally Discovered Why (and How to Help)

I wish we had clued in to our daughter’s generalized anxiety disorder a lot earlier then we did. It’s not for a lack of information available, it’s just that you don’t research it when you believe your child simply hates school. I mean our generation struggled with complicated friendships, PE class, and strict teachers too. Even our great-grandmothers had to survive the “mean girls”. So, our children will make it through, too, right? The problem is sometimes it’s more than just struggling to fit in; it’s a debilitating anxiety that leaves them feeling like they are treading in water over...

Keep Reading

What It Feels Like to Parent With Anxiety

In: Child, Mental Health, Motherhood
What It Feels Like to Parent With Anxiety

When my second child was born he wasn’t crying. I immediately sat up in the hospital bed and asked the nurses what was wrong. “He’s fine. Everything’s fine.” But I knew they were lying. A mother knows, and my anxiety-ridden heart was in full-blown panic until I knew my boy was OK. He had swallowed some meconium and turned blue as he struggled to breathe. He had a rough start, but in the end he really was fine. My heart, however, was not. Having anxiety is hard. Having anxiety when you are a mom can be crippling. When you are a mom with...

Keep Reading

To the Husband Whose Wife Has Depression

In: Mental Health, Relationships
To the Husband Whose Wife Has Depression

To the husband whose wife has depression,  First of all, it’s already a blessing to your wife that you have chosen her to spend the rest of your life, even eternity, with. Depression is never a battle you’d want to face alone. So having you as her companion, either standing next to her or carrying her in your arms and being that support to her (sometimes, even literally), is a gift she may not always be vocally appreciative of. But trust me, she is deeply and unequivocally grateful for it.  It’s no question that she has her “off” days when...

Keep Reading

Divorce is Not God’s Plan A

In: Faith, Mental Health, Relationships
Divorce is Not God's Plan A

Divorce is not God’s Plan A. How can it be? It violently tears apart two people God himself knit together. It rips to shreds the hearts of those who once stared into each other’s eyes and said “I love you”; it makes meaningless the words and promises of lifelong love, commitment and “death alone can part us”. One day there is love. Then, something deeper and stronger takes hold of that love and crushes it until it is dead. For me, that “something” was mental illness. It stole my husband. It destroyed my marriage. He was attending seminary to become...

Keep Reading